Category: baby name Fred
A few days ago, I was introduced to Fred Gooltz, COO of the hot new obsession site itsasickness.com. Wow, I thought, Fred, one of my favorite cool retro names. But it soon became evident that Fred didn’t share my enthusiasm, expressing his negative feelings about growing up with a name that seemed to be out of step with his time. To delve a little deeper, we had the following e-conversation:
FRED: There are always certain kinds of people who try to call you Freddy. Some people like to put “ie” on the end of any name, usually because they’re playing at childish schoolyard politics, infantilizing others with nicknames to feel stronger. It’s like assuming that you’ve got the right to call somebody ‘slugger’ or ‘kiddo’ or ‘champ.’ I rage against Freddie. I always picture the ‘I’ dotted with a heart.
Very few nicknames were attempted on me – I had one teacher who called me “Dauntless” for a while, but thankfully it didn’t stick when I changed schools. It’s entertaining and a little sad when a person with a clunky wig of a name like Fred goes by “Thunder” or “The Hammer.” It’s the McLovin joke from the movie Superbad. Nobody wants to be that guy. Naming your son Fred, Poindexter, Egbert, or Sheldon nearly guarantees that they have to deal with a moment like that eventually.
Do you know why your parents picked the name? Does it have any family connections? Did it affect your feelings towards your parents?
FRED: There are Alfreds and Fredericks all over my family history. My family is full of old timey names. But my mom – whose name is Estelle, by the way – insists that she really liked the name. She actually loved the name Friedrich, from a character in Little Women.“ The book probably made Friedrich a popular name in the 1870s, but a century later… not so much. I should probably be grateful–another option was apparently the name Zepherin.
Were you teased in Elementary School? High School? College?
FRED: In spite of the name Fred, to be honest, I wasn’t teased too badly about my name. I was teased because of my behavior. If anything, my name probably encouraged me to be able to fit in with different tribes of kids in school.
Ever think of changing your name?
FRED: Yes. I’ve met some very wonderful Freds who are passionate about spreading the name. and I’ve met some very nice people who are comforted by the Lawrence Welk Show- era simplicity of the name, but I’m not a Fred-evangelist. It took a long time for me to come to terms with my name. About thirty years. The first time I tried to change my name I was probably seven years old. For about a month I insisted that my family call me Rick – shortened from Frederick. I was adamant, I wouldn’t respond to my family unless I was addressed as Rick. But this distaste for the name Fred made my mother sad, so I dropped it. I’m sorry to say, but Fred never completely clicked with me. The sound of the name itself can sometimes clang like a jeer – even from friends. Frederick is probably better, I think.
When I heard yesterday that former child star (I bet she hates that) Mayim Bialik had named her baby boy Fred (only to discover later in the day that it was actually Frederick) I must admit a warm comfy feeling swept over me. Fred, I thought, what a great name! And not just because it wasn’t yet another day-of-the-week name or a South American capital city name or an invented name starting with X–I’ve learned to adjust to those names over the years to the point where I can honestly say nice things about (some of) them and mean it.
It’s just that there’s something about Fred. And Frank and George and Joe, and even Ralph–something so straightforward and honest and unfashiony and I have nothing to prove about them, it’s like the honking traffic suddenly comes to a halt for a minute on the naming superhighway and time stands still and dads are still smoking pipes and going bowling every Thursday night. It’s probably why so many pressured parents have named their kids Jack and Henry over the past few years–except that by trying to escape the trendy they unintentionally established a couple of trends of their own.
A few celebs have more successfully tried this path as a detour around the cleverness competition by choosing names like George (Kristen Scott Thomas, Eva Herzigova) and Frank (Diana Krall & Elvis Costello), Joe (Kate Winslet), and Ralph (Matthew McFayden)–except that, being British, it might be pronounced Rafe, thereby destroying my whole premise.
Strangely enough, I can’t think of any female names that produce quite the same feeling. Classics like Margaret and Virginia are too buttoned-up, others like Ann and Jean are more cool than warm and fuzzy.
No, it’s definitely a guy thing.